skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Numerical Investigation and Performance Characterization of Oscillating Foil Energy Harvesting
Oscillating foil energy harvesting devices are increasingly being considered as a sustainable energy alternative, especially in rivers and tidal areas. This paper applies CFD to an oscillating foil power generation device in order to explore the effects of pitching amplitude, the ratio of heaving amplitude to chord length, and the reduced frequency to the energy harvesting efficiency. Ansys Fluent 17.2 was used for this study, and the results are compared to experimental results that have been previously documented in the open literature. Configurations examined included pitching amplitudes of 65, 70, 75, and 80 degrees; heaving ratios of 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8; and reduced frequencies of 0.1, 0.12, 0.14, and 0.16. Results seems to indicate that the optimal reduced frequency is related to the heaving ratio, with the pitching amplitude only creating slight variations in the power produced by the foil. In the data, configurations with a heaving ratio of 0.4 have highest efficiency at reduced frequencies of either 0.14 or 0.16, but efficiency remains high at both points, which indicates the possibility of a peak in between the two points. Configurations with heaving ratio of 0.6 peak at reduced frequency 0.14 with a significant drop off at reduced frequency of 0.16. Finally, configurations with a heaving ratio of 0.8 show a peak at 0.12 reduced frequency and a significant drop at 0.14 and 0.16. These results suggest that OFEH devices can be effectively optimized for different and potentially varying operating conditions that may be encountered during practical implementation of OFEH technology.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the ASME 2020 Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The rising global trend to reduce dependence on fossil fuels has provided significant motivation toward the development of alternative energy conversion methods and new technologies to improve their efficiency. Recently, oscillating energy harvesters have shown promise as highly efficient and scalable turbines, which can be implemented in areas where traditional energy extraction and conversion are either unfeasible or cost prohibitive. Although such devices are quickly gaining popularity, there remain a number of hurdles in the understanding of their underlying fluid dynamics phenomena. The ability to achieve high efficiency power output from oscillating airfoil energy harvesters requires exploitation of the complexities of the event of dynamic stall. During dynamic stall, the oncoming flow separates at the leading edge of the airfoil to form leading ledge vortex (LEV) structures. While it is well known that LEVs play a significant role in aerodynamic force generation in unsteady animal flight (e.g. insects and birds), there is still a need to further understand their spatiotemporal evolution in order to design more effective energy harvesting enhancement mechanisms. In this work, we conduct extensive experimental investigations to shed-light on the flow physics of a heaving and pitching airfoil energy harvester operating at reduced frequencies of k = fc=U1 = 0.06-0.18, pitching amplitude of 0 = 75 and heaving amplitude of h0 = 0:6c. The experimental work involves the use of two-component particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements conducted in a wind tunnel facility at Oregon State University. Velocity fields obtained from the PIV measurements are analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively to provide a description of the dynamics of LEVs and other flow structures that may be present during dynamic stall. Due to the difficulties of accurately measuring aerodynamic forces in highly unsteady flows in wind tunnels, a reduced-order model based on the vortex-impulse theory is proposed for estimating the aerodynamic loadings and power output using flow field data. The reduced-order model is shown to be dominated by two terms that have a clear physical interpretation: (i) the time rate of change of the impulse of vortical structures and (ii) the Kutta-Joukowski force which indirectly represents the history effect of vortex shedding in the far wake. Furthermore, the effects of a bio-inspired flow control mechanism based on deforming airfoil surfaces on the flow dynamics and energy harvesting performance are investigated. The results show that the aerodynamic loadings, and hence power output, are highly dependent on the formation, growth rate, trajectory and detachment of the LEV. It is shown that the energy harvesting efficiency increases with increasing reduced frequency, peaking at 25% when k = 0.14, agreeing very well with published numerical results. At this optimal reduced frequency, the time scales of the LEV evolution and airfoil kinematics are matched, resulting in highly correlated aerodynamic load generation and airfoil motion. When operating at k > 0:14, it is shown that the aerodynamic moment and airfoil pitching motion become negatively correlated and as a result, the energy harvesting performance is deteriorated. Furthermore, by using a deforming airfoil surface at the leading and trailing edges, the peak energy harvesting efficiency is shown to increase by approximately 17% and 25% relative to the rigid airfoil, respectively. The performance enhancement is associated with enhanced aerodynamic forces for both the deforming leading and trailing edges. In addition, The deforming trailing edge airfoil is shown to enhance the correlation between the aerodynamic moment and pitching motion at higher reduced frequencies, resulting in a peak efficiency at k = 0:18 as opposed to k = 0:14 for the rigid airfoil. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract The energy harvesting performance of thick oscillating airfoils is predicted using an inviscid discrete vortex model (DVM). NACA airfoils with different leading-edge geometries are modeled that undergo sinusoidal heaving and pitching with reduced frequencies, k = f c/U∞, in the range 0.06–0.14, where f is the heaving frequency of the foil, c the chord length, and U the freestream velocity. The airfoil pitches about the mid-chord with heaving and pitching amplitudes of h0 = 0.5c and θ0 = 70°, respectively, known to be in the range of peak energy harvesting efficiencies. A vortex shedding initiation criteria is proposed based on the transient local wall stress distribution determined from computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and incorporates both timing and location of leading-edge separation. The scaled shedding times are shown to be predicted over the range of reduced frequencies using a timescale based on the leading-edge shear velocity and radius of curvature. The convection velocity of the shed vortices is also modeled based on the reduced frequency to better capture the dynamics of the leading-edge vortex. An empirical trailing-edge separation correction is applied to the transient force results using the effective angle of attack modified to include the pitching component. Impulse theory is applied to the DVM to calculate the transient lift force and compares well with the CFD simulations. Results show that the power output increases with increasing airfoil thickness and is most notable at higher reduced frequencies where the power output efficiency is highest. 
    more » « less
  3. This study explores the feasibility of using the vortex impulse approach, based on experimen- tally generated velocity elds to estimate the energy harvesting performance of a sinusoidally apping foil. Phase-resolved, two-component particle image velocimetry measurements are conducted in a low-speed wind tunnel to capture the ow eld surrounding the apping foil at reduced frequencies of k = fc=U1 = 0.06 - 0.16, pitching amplitude of 0 = 70 and heaving amplitude of h0=c = 0:6. The model results show that for the conditions tested, a maximum energy harvesting eciency of 25% is attained near k = 0:14, agreeing very well with published numerical and experimental results in both accuracy and general trend. The vortex impulse method identi es key contributions to the transient power production from both linear and angular momentum e ects. The eciency reduction at larger values of reduced frequencies is shown to be a result of the reduced power output from the angular momentum. Further, the impulse formulation is decomposed into contributions from posi- tive and negative vorticity in the ow and is used to better understand the uid dynamic mechanisms responsible for producing a peak in energy harvesting performance at k = 0:14. At the larger k values, there is a reduction of the advective time scales of the leading edge vortex (LEV) formation. Consequently, the LEV that is shed during the previous half cycle interacts with the foil at the current half cycle resulting in a large negative pitching power due to the reversed direction of the kinematic motion. This vortex capture process signif- icantly decreases the total cycle averaged power output and energy harvesting eciency. These results show the link between the kinematic motion and LEV time scales that a ect the overall power production. 
    more » « less
  4. Energy harvesting performance for a flapping foil device is evaluated to determine how activated leading edge motion affects the aerodynamic forces and the cycle power generated. Results are obtained for a thin flat foil that pitches about the midchord and operates in the reduced frequency range of k = f c/U of 0.06 - 0.10 and Reynolds numbers of 20,000 and 30,000 with a pitching amplitude of 70 and heaving amplitude of h0 = 0.5c. Time resolved data are presented based on direct force measurements and are used to determine overall cycle efficiency and coefficient of power. These results are compared against a panelbased discrete vortex model to predict power production. The model incorporates a leading edge suction parameter predictor for vortex shedding and empirical adjustments to circulatory forces. It is found that the leading edge motions that reduce the effective angle of attack early in a flapping stroke generate larger forces later in the stroke. Consequently, the energy harvesting efficiencies and power coefficients are increased since the generated aerodynamic loads are better synchronized with the foil motion. The efficiency gains are reduced with increasing reduced frequencies. 
    more » « less
  5. The application of a flapping foil with prescribed trailing edge motion to energy harvesting in a low reduced frequency (k = fc/U∞) regime was experimentally studied. The effects of the phase and amplitude of the applied trailing edge motion upon time-variant power extraction capability have been measured and are interpreted. On these bases, an optimized motion profile is developed. The airfoil design used was NACA0015 in profile with a chord length of c = 150mm, the pitching axis located at the 1/3 chord position, and an actively-controlled trailing edge flap hinged at the 2/3 chord location. The pitching and heaving amplitudes are θ0 = 70◦ and h0 = 0.6c respectively, with a phase delay of 90◦. Although the aspect ratio was 2, end plates were used to minimize 3-dimensional effects and simulate a 2-dimensional airfoil. Data were collected in a low-speed wind tunnel with turbulence intensities below 2%. The Reynolds number (Rec = U∞c/ν) range was 27, 000 ≤ Rec ≤ 60, 000 with a corresponding reduced frequency range of 0.04 ≤ k ≤ 0.10. The proposed trailing edge motion profile offers a measured maximum increase of 25.6% in cycle-averaged heaving power coefficient over a rigid foil operating under the same conditions. Results indicate that smaller trailing edge amplitudes offer greater improvements, and demonstrate that the influence of trailing edge motion can be more pronounced at low reduced frequencies. 
    more » « less